After falling 4-3 in a shootout to the Philadelphia Flyers, the Rangers will continue playing the bottom of the Metro Division when they verse the New Jersey Devils (7:00 P.M. EST, MSG).
|5th||NHL Standing Rank||29th|
A reason to be worried?
Last game, the Blueshirts were defeated in a shootout by the Flyers. But let’s talk more about what’s been going on over this past month. Since March 15th, the Rangers have played a total of eleven games have they have a record of 7-3-1. It’s hard to get mad with a record like that but does it really feel like the Rangers have played that well? In the eleven-game stretch, the Blueshirts played seven teams outside the playoffs and they have a record of 3-3-1. In all three of their wins, they’ve needed more than 60-mintues to seal the deal. They’ve only won by multiple goals twice in that eleven-game stretch and one of those times was because of an empty-net goal.
The biggest cause for concern comes in the goal. Igor Shesterkin was one of the favorites to win the Hart Trophy a month ago but that flame is all but gone over the last month. Since March 10th when the Blues managed to chase Shesterkin in St. Louis, the Russian netminder has a record of 4-4-1 with a save percentage of .886. That’s by far the worst stretch of the 26-year-old’s career. He is allowed to be human, but is it concerning that he has let in a few soft goals or shots he probably should be saving? A little, but I think he will figure it out. I believe he just needs a get-right game to restore confidence.
The Blueshirts will continue to hunt for consistency as they look to get revenge against the New Jersey Devils. Last time these two teams played the Rangers jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first period before getting embarrassed in the final 40 minutes. The Devils would score five unanswered goals in the second period on route to a 7-4 win. The Rangers will be seeking payback for what was one of their worst defeats of the season.
Head coach Gerard Gallant will be hoping to see the return of Ryan Strome. Strome has missed the past four games with a lower-body injury that was described as day-to-day. The Rangers could use a boost as they hunt for consistency. Gallant will also be hoping to see the returns of Kaapo Kakko and Kevin Rooney to practice. The hope is that the duo could be available for the final stretch so they could be ready and in-game shape for the playoffs.
New Jersey enters this game struggling mightily. Since defeating the Rangers 7-4, the Devils have lost five of six games with their one win coming against the Montreal Canadiens. In addition, New Jersey has given up at least three goals in each of those defeats including seven goals to Florida and eight goals to Boston.
Jack Hughes, who scored two goals against the Rangers in the last meeting, has a lower-body injury and his status is uncertain for Tuesday. Hughes did not take part during the Devils’ morning skate. If Hughes is unable to go, expect the Devils to deploy a top line of Miles Wood, Nico Hischier, and Jesper Bratt. Bratt is averaging over a point-per-game with 65 points in 64 games while Hischier has 50 points in 60 games. Wood has played in just two games this season and it will be the first time the Rangers face off against the speedy winger.
The one trade the Devils made at the trade deadline was bringing in goaltender Andrew Hammond. Hammond has only played in one game after recovering from injury and that was the game, he allowed seven to Florida. Daws on the other hand is coming off a 4-3 defeat to the New York Islanders. No matter who the Rangers see, they should be feeling confident they can score against either goaltender.
What to Watch
The Blueshirts desperately need a convincing feel-good win and it would be just that extra sweet coming against the Devils. It will be important to keep an eye on the confidence of the goaltenders of each team. Goaltending has been shaky lately for both teams and there is a chance this game could see a high-scoring affair.